Councillors have officially confirmed their reasons for rejecting proposals to build a controversial oil drill in the Lincolnshire Wolds – but taken noise concerns off the cards.
Lincolnshire County Council’s Planning and Regulation Committee originally voted to refuse Egdon Resources’ plans for Biscathorpe in November 1.
Egdon had said the area was believed to contain more than 30 million barrels of oil, which would provide 15 years’ supply.
On Monday, councillors confirmed unanimously that they thought the plans were contrary to the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Core Strategy and Development Management Policies, as well as the East Lindsey Local Plan.
A report before councillors said: “The introduction of extended periods of external lighting into this largely unlit protected landscape would have an adverse impact on the character of this special landscape that cannot be satisfactorily mitigated.
“This would draw attention to the development and create a lit visual intrusion into this largely dark sky location.
“The public benefits… do not outweigh the identified harm to the character of the Wolds AONB and the county council… do not consider it is possible to mitigate these impacts to an acceptable level.”
There was also uncertainty over the timescales of the project.
However, head of planning at the authority Neil McBride advised councillors that noise concerns should be removed from the reasons.
“It would be very difficult to bring forward a defence in relation to noise,” he said.
Chairman Councillor Ian Fleetwood agreed with the officer’s recommendation.
“We need to get on and deliver the reasons to the applicant and the public so people have some certainty where the council stands,” he said.
Councillor Alison Austin added: “I don’t particularly recall noise being the main issue. We refer to the policies but I don’t think noise was the one that was important or key.”
The Biscathorpe plans have faced a fierce backlash since their reveal with a petition handed to the council carrying more than 1,800 signatures, while more than 200 locals also submitted objections.
Campaigners said the drill would fly in the face of climate concerns – though the climate does not come under planning regulations.
Five of the parish councils closest to the site – Donnington-On-Bain, Hemingby, South Elkington, Welton-Le-Wold and South Willingham – also objected to the plans, along with MP for Louth and Horncastle Victoria Atkins, Natural England, Historic England, and multiple other organisations.
The developers said the site would be restored to agricultural use once the drilling had finished.
Egdon previously drilled in the location in 2018 and said there was little impact, it also said it was going to work closely with the Environment Agency.
Councillors and objectors have previously highlighted a lack of national policy allowing climate change to be considered as a material planning policy.